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Andrew Ollett
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar
The Way of the Poet-King: An Edition and Translation of the Earliest Surviving Work of Classical Kannada Literature

Project director Andrew Ollett and co-project director Sarah Pierce Taylor are preparing a print and digital edition and translation of the Way of the Poet-King, a seminal literary treatise from 9th-century India written in the regional language Kannada. (12 months)

The earliest text to survive in Kannada, one of India's classical languages, is The Way of the Poet-King, a treatise on poetics in three chapters produced at the court of the powerful king Amoghavarsha (r. 814-878). The Way is conscious of its historical position: it provides a detailed vision of Kannada as a literary language, based largely upon the model of Sanskrit, but with its own distinctive features. It theorizes Kannada as a "regional language," and demonstrates how to apply to it the concepts and techniques of Sanskrit literature. We will offer the first English translation of the Way, and a new critical edition based on its manuscript sources. This project will lay a new foundation for the study of vernacular literature in India by making one of the most powerful statements of vernacularity available to readers outside of the small world of Kannada scholarship. It will also give the fields of literary and cultural studies important material for comparative research.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Classical Languages; South Asian Literature; South Asian Studies

Scholarly Editions and Translations

Research Programs

$84,922 (approved)
$78,041 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2017 – 1/31/2019